On Wednesday night, another woman came forward with rape allegations against That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson, tweeting that the actor “repeatedly raped” her, and adding, “All I seek is justice and to prevent this from ever happening to anyone else.”
The new accusation comes following reports that Masterson had been under investigation for several similar incidents that allegedly occurred in the early 2000s.
But as HuffPost reported in November, the investigations have “inexplicably stalled,” in part due to, some have suggested, the actor’s ties to the Church of Scientology.
When did the allegations first become public?
News of the allegations against Masterson broke in March 2017, when former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega published a blogpost that included police reports detailing incidents with Masterson that had allegedly taken place in 2001 and 2003.
In one, a victim, whose name was not published, alleged that Masterson sexually assaulted her while she was passed out. She woke up during the assault, she said, and Masterson allegedly “choked” her until she passed out again.
As HuffPost reported, Masterson is a member of the Church of Scientology, and at least three of the women who accused him of rape were also members and reported their alleged assaults to the organization at the time.
According to HuffPost, at least one of the cases against Masterson, regarding an incident that was alleged to have taken place in 2003, didn’t continue after the Church of Scientology submitted “over 50 affidavits from Scientologists” disputing the accuser’s allegations.
The multiple investigations
In late 2016, the LAPD began conducting interviews with women who alleged that Masterson raped them, according to HuffPost. In April, the police department reportedly referred the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which began conducting its own investigation.
Yet despite what sources close to the investigation called “overwhelming” evidence against Masterson, the case had stopped making progress, and no charges have yet been filed against Masterson.
How did Netflix respond?
By November there was mounting pressure on Netflix to respond to the now widely reported allegations against Masterson, who was a co-star and co-producer on the Netflix original comedy The Ranch. Despite the allegations against him, the streaming service had gone ahead with plans for a Dec. 15 release date for The Ranch: Part 4 — the second half of the show’s second season — with Masterson in his starring role.
Amid the calls for Netflix to respond to the allegations, Chrissie Carnell-Bixler came forward with a public statement identifying herself as one of Masterson’s alleged victims. Bixler told the Daily Beast that she was “sick” upon learning that Netflix had no plans to end its relationship with Masterson. “For me, what Netflix has done, feels like a continuation of how the Church of Scientology made me feel when I reported my rape to them, as well as how Danny Masterson made me feel when I would beg him for an apology, an explanation, anything,” Bixler said in a statement.
“I was made to feel unimportant ... We ARE important. We will see justice for what was done to us, and is continuing to be done to us.”
In a statement to the Daily Beast, the Church of Scientology said that it refuted “the implication the Church would ignore the criminal behavior of certain members, especially at the expense of alleged victims.”
In early December, Andy Yeatman, then a Netflix executive, reportedly told one of Masterson’s alleged victims that the company didn’t “believe” Masterson’s accusers, HuffPost reported. The two were speaking at a kids soccer game in Los Angeles when the alleged victim approached Yeatman; he didn’t realize she was one of Masterson’s accusers until she told him, “I’m one of them.”
In a statement, Netflix confirmed that the incident had taken place: “While he was coaching a youth soccer match today, Mr. Yeatman — a Netflix kids’ programming executive — was approached by a stranger who did not identify herself or explain her connection to Danny Masterson. ... Mr. Yeatman’s comments were careless, uninformed and do not represent the views of the company.”
A day after news of that conversation broke, Netflix announced it had fired Masterson from The Ranch, the New York Times reported. In a statement, Netflix said, “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch. ... Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
Shortly after, the company announced that it had also fired Yeatman, the Netflix executive who had unwittingly told one of Masterson’s accusers that the company didn’t believe her.
In a statement made after Netflix announced its decision to cut ties with him, Masterson denied the allegations against him, saying that, “Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. ... I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.”
The allegations against him have continued to build, however, and in her Wednesday night tweet, Bobette Riales publicly accused the actor of rape, tagging Bixler, another one of Masterson’s accusers, in the tweet.
Bixler expressed her support for Riales on Twitter on Wednesday, calling her an “incredibly brave and strong woman who I’ve recently come to know and is now forevermore my sister for life.”